The Matrix Down!

The 2012 NBA Playoff schedule was full this weekend. We had our first series end in a sweep and surprisingly, it was the Dallas Mavericks getting the early boot at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New York Knicks dug deep and avoided the same fate by beating the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets extended their series with the Lakers with a home win.

In both cases, however, the favorite (Heat and Lakers) lead their series 3-1 so it's only a matter of time. The same 3-1 situation goes for the Boston Celtics who beat up the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers who survived overtime with the Orlando Magic. The San Antonio Spurs lead the Utah Jazz 3-0 and will go for the sweep Monday night.

The only surprise series is the 3-1 lead the Philadelphia 76ers hold over the severely banged up Chicago Bulls. Credit the 76ers Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes for providing much-needed scoring. Oh, and the Grizzlies are finding the Clippers to be much stiffer competition than expected.

Here's what's on the NBA Playoff schedule for Monday:

San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT

The Jazz are going to lose this series, it's only a matter of protecting home court and avoiding the embarrassing sweep. History would have us believe the Spurs will drop this one and win at home, but then again, this Spurs team might be the best we've seen in a long time.

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT

It's not entirely clear if the Clippers are better than we thought or if the Grizzlies are worse. Regardless, the Clips are up 2-1 in this series which making this game pivotal. It's hard to imagine the loser tonight moving on.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube


The Matrix Down!

The 2012 NBA Playoff schedule was full this weekend. We had our first series end in a sweep and surprisingly, it was the Dallas Mavericks getting the early boot at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New York Knicks dug deep and avoided the same fate by beating the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets extended their series with the Lakers with a home win.

In both cases, however, the favorite (Heat and Lakers) lead their series 3-1 so it's only a matter of time. The same 3-1 situation goes for the Boston Celtics who beat up the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers who survived overtime with the Orlando Magic. The San Antonio Spurs lead the Utah Jazz 3-0 and will go for the sweep Monday night.

The only surprise series is the 3-1 lead the Philadelphia 76ers hold over the severely banged up Chicago Bulls. Credit the 76ers Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes for providing much-needed scoring. Oh, and the Grizzlies are finding the Clippers to be much stiffer competition than expected.

Here's what's on the NBA Playoff schedule for Monday:

San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT

The Jazz are going to lose this series, it's only a matter of protecting home court and avoiding the embarrassing sweep. History would have us believe the Spurs will drop this one and win at home, but then again, this Spurs team might be the best we've seen in a long time.

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT

It's not entirely clear if the Clippers are better than we thought or if the Grizzlies are worse. Regardless, the Clips are up 2-1 in this series which making this game pivotal. It's hard to imagine the loser tonight moving on.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube


JYD laughs in the face of "you can't."

Here at Bright Side of the Sun we take the words TOTAL COVERAGE pretty dang seriously.

While our beloved Suns are off taking nice vacations, we are still slaving away, attempting to provide you all with first class Suns coverage.

So friends, without further adieu, we present you with the Phoenix Suns Season in Review, 2011-12.

Up for discussion today is Jared Dudley.

There weren't many sure things going into this season for the Suns. Although the entire starting five returned from the end of last season, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley hadn't proven themselves as legitimate starters in the NBA, and the two proven starters, Steve Nash and Grant Hill, were creeping dangerously close to age 40.

Overall, that starting five proved to be quite effective, and Dudley was one of the team's most dependable players, finishing the season second in scoring, 3-point %, 3-pointers made and minutes played, and third in win shares/48 minutes. Along with Gortat, Dudley was somewhat of an iron man, missing only one game and playing big minutes in this sprint of a lockout-shortened season.

One could look at Dudley's 12.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and conclude that he under-produced and is in need of replacement. For a team that went 33-33 and missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, that's a perfectly reasonable assessment. If an upgrade is available, a pure go-to scorer who can lift this team to a higher place in the Western Conference's pecking order, I'm all for it.

But finding a clear upgrade from Dudley won't be so easy and, unless a star shooting guard is acquired, Dudley has no intention of relinquishing that starting spot.

That spirit, giving no ground and constantly fighting to prove himself, is what makes Jared Dudley. It's remarkable how accurate the scouting reports on Dudley were as he was entering the NBA. From NBA Draft Net's Matthew Maurer and Aran Smith:
  • "Plays the game with toughness and a highly competitive will to win. Understands the game like few others as Dudley's basketball IQ might be among the best in the collegiate ranks"
  • "Understands how to initiate contact and draw fouls from opposing defenders. When doing this he will incorporate a number of pump fakes to get defenders off their feet."
  • "Scrappy player who hustles for loose balls and will do whatever dirty work is necessary to win."
  • "An overachiever, maximizes his talents."
  • "Work ethic is top notch as one only has to see how he has developed since entering Boston College's program as a freshman."

On the negative end:

  • "Too small to play in the post and lacks the speed, athleticism and quickness to guard perimeter players."
  • "Has yet to fully create offense for himself off the dribble."
  • "Not especially explosive or athletic."

Well, damn, that sure sounds like the Jared Dudley (now five seasons into his NBA career) we know, doesn't it? The same questions remain: is he athletic enough to keep up with other wings on defense? Can he create for himself adequately?

One question that he has answered is that he's an excellent NBA shooter, as his .409 career 3-point % and .546 career eFG% aren't far behind Steve Nash's .428 and .557. He's not only a "try hard" player, he's a real spot-up shooting threat.

As a shooting guard playing with Nash, spot-up shooting is a critically important skill possessed by Dudley. But the Suns need more scoring, more of a go-to player at that position, someone closer to Jason Richardson in 2009-10 or Joe Johnson in 2004-05. Here are comparisons

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/48
1 Jared Dudley 2011-12 26 65 2020 15.4 .575 .547 5.4 11.4 8.4 8.8 1.3 0.7 9.1 17.7 115 109 4.0 1.1 5.1 .121
2 Jason Richardson 2009-10 29 79 2485 16.6 .574 .553 3.9 13.9 9.2 8.8 1.3 0.9 7.9 20.8 116 111 5.0 1.7 6.6 .128
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/6/2012.

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/48
1 Jared Dudley 2011-12 26 65 2020 15.4 .575 .547 5.4 11.4 8.4 8.8 1.3 0.7 9.1 17.7 115 109 4.0 1.1 5.1 .121
2 Joe Johnson 2004-05 23 82 3240 15.1 .556 .536 4.2 9.5 7.0 13.2 1.2 0.5 10.5 19.0 113 110 5.8 1.7 7.6 .112

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/6/2012.

Dudley's an efficient, effective player. He's not always sexy and doesn't fill up the box score as some would like. As much as I'd like the Suns roster to be full of athletes who throw down pretty dunks and make the game look easy, having players who are smart, tough, hard working, steady producers is just as important.

The criticism I have of Dudley as a starter is that he's not aggressive enough in looking to score. He shoots at a high percentage, he can draw fouls, and has a little "old man's game" going to the hoop. Maybe it was because it was his first season with the starters, but he deferred on some open shots. If you're the best option, fire away!

Dudley weighed in on the topic of whether he should be a starter, replying to a Tweet from our own Toon Army Sun:

RT @ToonArmySun: @JaredDudley619 Do you expect to still be a starter next season? ( What u think?)

— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 27, 2012

That's the spirit of Dudley, never backing down from a challenge. And that's what makes me put all the "he's not fast enough and doesn't jump high enough" stuff in its place. He brings a professional approach, shoots accurately and displays leadership. Dudley played a nice starting SG for us this season and, of all positions to upgrade, SG isn't at the top of the list.

Coming into this season, Dudley had started 37 games total in his career. This season he started 60. Nobody knew how he could perform as a starter, then he showed up and contributed every night.

Based on expectations and performance, I give Dudley a solid B+. Replace him and send him back to be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate if we can. Until then, he's getting it done with the starters, at a salary of less than $13M total over the next three seasons. This makes Dudley one of the Suns' most valuable assets.

"How can you not get better with someone who makes everybody better?" Dudley replied when asked whether the Suns can rebuild with Nash. An excellent question, and it might be asked back of him.

Poll
Should the Suns upgrade from Jared Dudley at shooting guard? If so, with who? (reasonable suggestions, please)

  277 votes | Results


Editor’s Note: The following is a free-flowing conversation between Michael Schwartz and Kevin Zimmerman on the Phoenix Suns’ options this offseason. Michael Schwartz: Two seasons ago the...

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Yes, Melo. Facepalm.

Four games on the slate for today, as the Bulls find themselves in an unexpected predicament, down 2-1 to the 76ers and now missing Joakim Noah after having already lost Derrick Rose for the rest of the playoffs. Game four is today in Philadelphia.

The Heat have the Knicks on the ropes 3-0, and a first round sweep out of the playoffs looks like a foregone conclusion for the Knicks as superstar Carmelo Anthony is shooting only 34% from the field and Amar'e Stoudemire has done more damage to fire hydrant casings than he has to the Heat. Stoudemire will be a game-time decision, so maybe he'll pull a Willis Reed with his self-inflicted mangled hand and help the Knicks to their first playoff win since 2001.

There's a lot of piling on of Amar'e right now, but AZ Central's Paola Boivin puts things in perspective.

When I reflect on Stoudemire, I will think not of the punch but of the person he has become since being drafted by the Suns a decade ago, of the man many expected to fizzle in the high school-to-NBA experiment who last season was treated to MVP chants in New York.


Tonight, the Nuggets have a chance to even their series at home against the Lakers, and the Celtics and Hawks battle it out in what is probably the least entertaining remaining series.

More on today's games after the jump, and a recap of yesterday's action, which featured the completion of a first round sweep of the defending champion Mavericks.

Yesterday's results:

Today's games:

  • Bulls at 76ers, 10AM MST, ABC
  • Heat at Knicks, 12:30PM MST, ABC
  • Hawks at Celtics, 4PM MST, TNT
  • Lakers at Nuggets, 6:30PM MST, TNT

Today might be the end of another disappointing Knicks season, and that doesn't make me sad. The passing of legendary Beastie Boys member Adam "MCA" Yauch, does make me sad, and since the Beastie Boys were proud Knicks fans, enjoy a little music on this Sunday. RIP, Adam Yauch.

Beastie Boys - So What'cha Want (via BVMUndergroundHipHop)



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